But before he passed away, Tom Martinez made it his life’s mission to help countless athletes achieve their potential. And none of his pupils have achieved more success than the 43-year-old quarterback trying to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl title in nearly 20 years.
Tom Martinez played a major role in Tom Brady’s development
Tom Brady worked tirelessly to become the greatest quarterback of all time. But he had some help along the way.
In fact, long before he joined forces with Bill Belichick, the California native got introduced to another coach who played a significant role in his development as a football player: Tom Martinez.
According to ESPN, Tom Brady Sr. introduced his son to the College of San Mateo coach in 1992. Martinez became Brady’s personal throwing coach before he made his first high-school start and continued to work with him throughout his NFL career.
In fact, Martinez once said, “Other than maybe his parents, people don’t know what I do…but he knows.”
Even after establishing a reputation as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks with the New England Patriots, Brady continued to rely on Martinez to help him work on various elements of his game.
“He understands what it takes to get to Super Bowls,” Martinez said back in 2010. “A lot of guys don’t, so they’ll minimize preparation because it might be inconvenient. Where with him, he knows if he’s off, that’s the difference of whether they keep going or not.”
Brady suffered a tragic loss with the unexpected death of his quarterback coach
For Tom Brady, the month of February 2012 featured two devastating losses.
First, he suffered another disappointing defeat against the Giants to drop his Super Bowl record to 3-2.
Weeks later, though, Brady experienced a tragic loss off the field when Tom Martinez died on his 66th birthday. According to Martinez’s wife, Olivia, the widely-respected quarterback coach suffered a heart attack while receiving dialysis treatment. His health had declined to the point that he needed a kidney transplant.
For Brady, losing such a valuable teacher and a trusted friend hit hard. He offered some powerful words about Martinez in a Facebook post.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my coach, mentor, and friend,” Brady wrote. “Coach Martinez’s invaluable assistance and support will never be forgotten and will always have a lasting impact on my life. The time we spent together remain some of my fondest memories. His legacy of commitment, toughness, and determination will live on forever.”
Of course, Martinez spent years helping mold a young kid from California into the greatest quarterback of all time. But he accomplished much more than that during his time on Earth.
A lasting legacy
While Tom Martinez became well known in New England for his work with Tom Brady, his biggest impact came over in California.
He followed in the footsteps of NFL legends Bill Walsh and John Madden and became the head football coach at College of San Mateo. Martinez also taught physical education and coached softball and women’s basketball.
“He loved looking at them complete tasks that they hadn’t been able to do before,” his wife explained. “They motivated him, and frankly, I’m convinced that kept him alive much longer than expected.”
Martinez’s teams reportedly won 32 combined championships. He earned 400 career wins in football, 565 wins in basketball, and 800 wins in softball across a 32-year period.
“He really was the representation of Bulldogs athletics,” said College of San Mateo athletic director Gary Dilley. “It’s great [Martinez] made such a great contribution to tom Brady, but really the mark he made was in the hearts he trained and coached at CSM.”
Tom Martinez got inducted into the College of San Mateo Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 as part of a class that fittingly included Madden and Walsh.